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18 Jul 2017

Purveyors of Electronic Dance Rock: Desert Hot Springs' Chill Magnet Celebrates the Release of Its Well-Received Debut Album

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Chill Magnet. Chill Magnet.

Desert Hot Springs band Chill Magnet has finally put out an album—and it lives up to the band’s name.

Surf Chica Bonita includes some truly bang-up tracks that will remind listeners of bands such as Tame Impala, Foals and MGMT. Parts of the album have deep, psychedelic tracks, while other sections have tracks that are … well, chill.

Chill Magnet will be playing a show with Daytime Moon at the Red Barn on Friday, Aug. 18.

During a recent interview with Tom Murray (lead vocals/bass/guitar/keyboards), he explained the foundations of Chill Magnet.

“It really started in 2013 with my (then) former band mate Randy Banis,” Murray said. “He had a recording studio in his house, which is a funny story, because he won money to build it on a game show. I asked him, ‘Did you win this on Jeopardy?’ and he said, ‘No! It was The Weakest Link.’ He pulls it up and shows it to me—and there he is. He won $25,000. He said, ‘Since I won it in entertainment, I’m going to build a studio.’

“We demoed 20 songs that I wrote while I was living in Malibu. We decided in 2014 to make a record, and I started recording up here in Desert Hot Springs. I’d send them to Randy, and we made an EP that we released in 2015 called Gringo Mariachi.”

Chill Magnet started to appear live while the band continued to release singles.

“People liked (the band), and I thought we should start playing live gigs, but we had no band,” Murray said. “It was the two of us. We got a couple of musicians and started playing live. We were playing punk-rock songs, given we were a four-piece. We weren’t playing the tracks.

“After a year, we put out two singles, and Randy and I wanted to go back to the original lineup of him and I so we could play the tracks and put the music out the way we recorded it. We did that around the summer of 2015, and I started to record and finish my vocal tracks in 2016. I had to wait a whole year for him to finish his tracks and produce the record.

“This album took over a year to make. It taught me a lot about patience, given I’d see these other bands out here in the scene ask me, ‘Where have you been?’ and I’d be like, ‘Just waiting to come out, but it’s going to be great!’ I didn’t want anyone to hear it; I just waited patiently. In the meantime, I wrote an entire new album while Randy was doing his parts. He was pissed at me. I recorded another album. We do theme albums, and we have two more albums that we’re recording with certain styles of things we’re jamming on.”

The response thus far to Surf Chica Bonita has been overwhelmingly positive.

“The success of the band now with the new record—people are really loving our live show and really digging the album,” Murray said. “No one is more surprised than me. You just never know when something is going to connect.”

Murray said there is a term he uses to explain Chill Magnet’s sound.

“We had to come up with our own sound. We were having trouble defining it, so we came up with what we’re calling EDR, which stands for electronic dance rock,” he said. “So what we do is take traditional alternative rock from the ’80s, ’90s and ’00s, and bands that influence us from that time period, and we’re fusing it with EDM techniques. We use a lot of sub-bass and a lot of drum loops—things that are more common in EDM music. It really confuses people, and they tell us, ‘It’s like rock, but it’s not. It’s like trance, but it’s not.’ There are other bands that are doing it, like Beck; Death Cab for Cutie’s last album is like EDM meets rock. … We like to say we’re the pioneers but not the inventors.”

Murray said being part of the Coachella Valley music scene has been rewarding.

“It’s been unbelievably supportive. It’s so warm and fuzzy that it almost makes me weak,” he said. “I’ve been looking forward to going into Los Angeles, and we’re opening for Sponge (at Whisky a Go-Go on Sept. 29). It’s going to be tough on us, and people will be more critical. Out here, people are so nice and supportive. Randy and I are older guys; we’ve been around, and we never expected to be accepted by these young bands that we play shows with. The BrosQuitos, The CMFs, Daytime Moon—they are so accepting of us. I can’t believe it: In my middle age, I’m getting to play cool music.

“We’re trying to be new and relevant-sounding, so I’m sure that makes a difference. No one here is pretentious, and you don’t have to be a 20-something boy band out here. You can be all shapes and sizes, and the people are accepting of it if it’s good music. I bet you there are 100 great bands here.”

Chill Magnet will perform with Daytime Moon at 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 18, at The Red Barn, 73290 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.chillmagnet.net.

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